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Higgins swaps Olympic post for Network Rail

David Higgins, the mastermind of the massive building project for the London 2012 Olympics, is to leave the Games organisation to become chief executive of Network Rail

The Australian is to switch jobs in February and will be replaced by Dennis Hone, who has worked under him at the Olympic Delivery Authority as finance director and previously at English Partnerships, the Government’s regeneration agency.

ODA chairman John Armitt, himself a former Network Rail chief executive, paid tribute to Higgins’ influence in keeping the building work for the Games on schedule and on budget.

Armitt said: ‘David has done an inspirational job at the ODA over the last five years. We have been tasked with delivering the biggest construction project in Europe on a highly contaminated site to the ultimate fixed deadline.

‘David set up the ODA from scratch and leaves it with the project on time, within budget and on the verge of completing the first major venues on the Olympic Park.

‘He has done all this at the same time as helping achieve a first-class safety record and driving forward innovation in terms of sustainable construction. This is an exciting opportunity for David and I am sure he will do a brilliant job leading Network Rail over the years to come.

He added: ‘Dennis Hone, who replaces him, has been director of finance at the ODA for the last four years. He has played a key role in our success to date and is a first-class replacement. He will give the ODA important continuity as we face the challenges that lie ahead.’

Previous story (24.10.07)

‘No more cuts to Zaha’s Aquatic Centre’ says ODA chief

The chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has put his reputation on the line by pledging not to scale back Zaha Hadid’s troubled Aquatic Centre.

When asked if there would be any more cuts to the key venue, David Higgins, who was speaking at Emap conference ‘The Games Briefing’, said: ‘No. It will continue to be enhanced.

‘With the preferred bidder in place [Balfour Beatty] I am confident the design will progress well. I have watched it take shape for the last 18 months and I think the design gets better and better.’

Last November Hadid’s original scheme, which featured a striking wave-like roof, was radically overhauled in an effort to slash costs. The result was a roof almost three times smaller.

Commenting on the previous cutbacks, Higgins went on to claim that they had actually improved the overall aspect of the Olympic Park.

He said: ‘There is a huge public space outside the Aquatic Centre that is bigger than Trafalgar Square. The previous value engineering allowed for this better public space.’

 

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